Abstract:Two nonprofit organizations - the U.S. Army Armament, Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) and the city of Coral Springs, Florida – recognized the value of the voice of the customer as a means of improving operations. Each faced unique challenges when gathering customer feedback, but their perseverance was rewarded when the two became the first nonprofit organizations to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Voice of the customer (VOC) is critical to ARDEC’s ability to meet the requirements of a customer base that includes the U.S. Army. In addition to VOC, ARDEC uses other quality tools such as Six Sigma and ISO standards. The city of Coral Springs, on the other hand, used a shift in philosophy that deemphasized immediate results. A rigorous planning process allows Coral Springs to concentrate on today’s problems and to plan in a strategic way. A customer-centric approach has yielded impressive results, including residents’ quality ratings of more …

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